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Dan Bueide letter: Early duck season a boon for residents
The Forum - 10/13/2003

Saturday (Sept. 27) may have been the single most perfect day for duck hunting. Cool, but not overly so. Heavy clouds, but no rain. And every water fowler's friend, a hearty North Dakota breeze, was also present.

Evidently many other North Dakota resident water fowlers felt the same. Where I hunted Saturday in the Southeast, I could hear shots from at least five other groups set up within a couple of miles. Sunday in the East Central, we heard shots from at least three other groups set up around us. And Monday in the North Central, one other group. In addition, there were many other random shots in the vicinity from those who prefer to jump-shoot birds as opposed to set decoys.

It was my observation that the resident-only week of duck hunting that began last Saturday was well-utilized. This utilization translated into gas tanks being filled, hunger pangs sated and thirsts quenched.

Certainly well-utilized, but not overutilized. As a result, most of the ducks should be around for another week when the general opener begins.

Ducks have options. When they receive moderate pressure and have open water for roosting and ample food sources, most will stick around for a long time. On the other hand, when they're pursued by many hunters every day and statewide like they have been in recent years, they vote with their wings and find peace elsewhere, outside of our borders.

Too much and increasing pressure will mean fewer birds in state for fewer days, demeaning the quality of our hunting with consequences for resident hunters, nonresident hunters and the tourism industry. How many and for how long the ducks hatched in North Dakota and their migrating cousins will stick around this year, with greater and concentrated pressure because of more anticipated hunters and less water statewide, is a question on the minds of many.

Many resident hunters were disappointed with several components of the governor's overall '03 waterfowl plan that will not check ever-increasing pressure during the general season. But, resident hunters should be very thankful for the resident water fowling week component of that plan, which will likely produce the most sane and enjoyable water fowling of the entire season. I am. Thank you, Gov. John Hoeven.

Dan Bueide
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